Since our inception, Midwives for Haiti has aimed to expand access to skilled care for mothers and babies in Haiti. So many communities lack access to trained skilled birth attendants, yet are filled with ambitious, compassionate young men and women who are eager to fill those roles. When we recruit for new classes, we strive to select nurses in those disadvantaged communities, so that after training they can return to provide care to their own hometown.
When we opened the Carrie Wortham Birth Center in Cabestor in late 2015, local nurse Shella Pasquet was intrigued. “I was not yet a Midwives for Haiti student,” she said. ” I wanted to be a midwife, but I did not pass the entrance exam to be a part of the skilled birth attendants program. Therefore, I asked if I could go to the birth center to observe.” Shella began helping out around the center, performing vital signs and offering support for deliveries. When the next class rolled around, she got back in line to take the entrance exam. This time, she passed.
The Nadene Brunk Eads School was a very challenging task for Shella. “The school was very difficult. I had to retake my first exam,” she said. “[Education Director] Cindy and [Clinical Director] Perrine gave me a lot of educational support; they told me to ask questions and seek for help when needed.”
MFH Founder and former Executive Director Nadene Eads followed Shella’s course closely, filled with hope for her future. Shella recalls “Nadene was very surprised that I had to retake the exam. She was concerned that if I didn’t pass, I would be kicked out the program. Nadene thought it was very significant to complete the program and return to serve my community since the people are familiar with me.”
Shella continued to work at the birth center during her studies, helping out when she returned home on the weekends. After her graduation earlier this year, she was brought on as one of 4 full-time skilled birth attendants. She is back home, with a good job to support her family, and she is able to provide lifesaving care to people from her own community. “I feel good and proud that people in the community are able to recognize my face and they trust me to ask for help,” she said. “The staff here at the birth center are positive and work together as a team. Everyone respects each others’ work, from the administrative level and down.”
We now have over 150 graduates working all around Haiti. As we grow and expand, even more communities will benefit from the training and heart of skilled birth attendants like Shella.